Best Dystopian Novels

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Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Leonidas » 13 Jan 2012, 18:23

Wow, I haven't been on here in a while.

Anyway, I'm finally finishing Mockingjay and I've forgotten how much I love dystopian novels. I'm playing around with writing a short manuscript of something that could be dystopian, mostly just for my own enjoyment and to get the idea out of my head, but before I write anything I want to read more of the genre. What would you guys suggest I read if I want to read a wide sampling of dystopian novels? I've never actually read most of the classics, but they're all on my Nook to be read, so I want more suggestions.

Any and all suggestions are welcome!
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Cookie » 14 Jan 2012, 14:09

I know you said you have them on your Book, but I really suggest BRAVE NEW WORLD and 1984. They are the best by far, in my opinion. THE RUNNING MAN by Stephen King was pretty good. A more actiony type of dystopian. It's kind of like an adult version of HUNGER GAMES. WITHER by Lauren DeStefano was good too.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby CharleeVale » 14 Jan 2012, 14:19

Well, my MS is dystopian, you could read that! LOL

But my favorites recently have been Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Also, cookie is going to fight me on Shatter Me, because she hated it and I loved it. hehehe.

Can't disagree with brave new world though!

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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby trixie » 14 Jan 2012, 17:45

Here are some EXCELLENT ones I read last year:

How I live now by Meg Rosoff (Printz award winner)
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Giver by Lois Lowery (Newberry award winner)

I also once asked for recommendations in this genre and many recommended Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Enjoy!
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Falls Apart » 14 Jan 2012, 19:19

My favorite dystopian is Gone, although that's also horror/supernatural. Also, Handmaid's Tale is really good. I'm not a huge fan of dystopias in general... even though I'm writing them... I guess what I think about it is...

There are two types of dystopia novels. In one type, some cataclysmic event--sometimes specific, sometimes unnamed--has happened, and, in the wake of it, a strange, warped society has formed. Some examples would be the Gone series, Uglies, etc. In another type, it's just the natural progression of society, like Feed. I mostly (although not exclusively) like the ones after a cataclysmic event, because the other type is often really preachy, which bugs me, and the message tends to not go through anyways, because it's usually more like "don't do X, because if unrelated-and-unlikely Y happens, and everyone's really stupid, the world's gonna suck." Not saying all are like that, just some. But the ones where it's less about what our society today will become and warning people about it, and more about what another, imaginary society is, and making statements about our society as it is now through that, instead of sensationalized notions about what could happen.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Leonidas » 14 Jan 2012, 21:31

trixie wrote:Here are some EXCELLENT ones I read last year:

How I live now by Meg Rosoff (Printz award winner)
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Giver by Lois Lowery (Newberry award winner)

I also once asked for recommendations in this genre and many recommended Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Enjoy!

The Road is actually my favorite book, and one that inspired me to really push myself to become a better writer. It's odd, I didn't even think of re-reading that (not that I need many excuses to re-read it).

Falls Apart wrote:My favorite dystopian is Gone, although that's also horror/supernatural. Also, Handmaid's Tale is really good. I'm not a huge fan of dystopias in general... even though I'm writing them... I guess what I think about it is...

There are two types of dystopia novels. In one type, some cataclysmic event--sometimes specific, sometimes unnamed--has happened, and, in the wake of it, a strange, warped society has formed. Some examples would be the Gone series, Uglies, etc. In another type, it's just the natural progression of society, like Feed. I mostly (although not exclusively) like the ones after a cataclysmic event, because the other type is often really preachy, which bugs me, and the message tends to not go through anyways, because it's usually more like "don't do X, because if unrelated-and-unlikely Y happens, and everyone's really stupid, the world's gonna suck." Not saying all are like that, just some. But the ones where it's less about what our society today will become and warning people about it, and more about what another, imaginary society is, and making statements about our society as it is now through that, instead of sensationalized notions about what could happen.

That's a really good point, and difference for me to keep track of. Overall, I'm just interested in reading as wide of a selection from the genre as I can, so I think I'll be reading both types. Do you have any suggestions for books that might not be set after a cataclysmic event, to go with those that are?

Thanks for all your suggestions, everyone, and please keep them coming!
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Falls Apart » 15 Jan 2012, 09:27

^^Feed isn't set after a cataclysmic event. Neither is Oryx and Crake. Well, it contains a cataclysmic event, but that comes after the dystopia, not before it. Handmaid's Tale is kind of in between. I haven't read it, but I'm pretty sure Atlas Shrugged isn't, either (correct me if I'm wrong). One of the reasons I don't like this idea--although I do like Handmaid's Tale--is that each author seems so convinced that dystopias so opposite each other are going to come into being that it's hard to take any of them seriously, especially when one author's preventative measures signify the beginning of the other author's doom. But I can get past that so long as the author is telling a story, not illustrating a point in ninety thousand words.

I'm actually working on writing a dystopia right now, although it has absolutely nothing to do with what I think the world is coming to, and much more to do with me hearing one too many of my communist friend's lectures on how the class structure is destined to progress itself into nonexistence, and then trying to envision what the opposite would be.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Cookie » 15 Jan 2012, 23:11

trixie wrote:Here are some EXCELLENT ones I read last year:

How I live now by Meg Rosoff (Printz award winner)
Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Giver by Lois Lowery (Newberry award winner)

I also once asked for recommendations in this genre and many recommended Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Enjoy!


I forgot about The Road! Also, I second Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake.

[quote=CharleeVale]Also, cookie is going to fight me on Shatter Me, because she hated it and I loved it. hehehe.[/quote]

The thing about Shatter Me is I wouldn't even classify it as dystopian novel. It's more of a paranormal romance (There's more kissing than actual plot) set in a dystopian-ish world. Not a very good one either. But that's my opinion.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Sommer Leigh » 17 Jan 2012, 10:20

I loathe that I'm quoting wikipedia, but one of the pages has a great description of a true dystopian: "Dystopian is the vision of a society that is the opposite of utopia. A dystopian society is often a planned structured society in which the conditions of life are deliberately made miserable, characterized by poverty, oppression, violence, disease, scarcity, and/or pollution for the benefit of a select minority or some unnatural societal goal."

The key word here is: Deliberate. That's why many stories have a strong government presence. The new dystopian society might have been created due to a cataclysmic event, but the heart of the dystopian is found in how humanity chooses to deal with the aftermath.

Strong sci-fi stories can also be incorrectly characterized as dystopian. All futuristic sci-fi stories are not dystopian. The emperor deliberately makes huge populations miserable and controled, but I wouldn't call Star Wars a dystopian. Great dystopians have a certain flavor to them - something where the control and dehumanization of a section of the population is horrifying to our current social norms but has become the new norm in that world. Care should be made when categorizing a story with a world that is "different" but not necessarily good (utopian) or bad (dystopian).

Here are some of my favorites:

Angelfall by Susan Ee
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
(Interestingly, these two have a lot in common.)
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (plus Pretties and Specials, book 2 & 3)
Oryx and Crake & the sequal The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Legend by Marie Lu
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Very very different from all other dystopians you will ever read.)
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi


Some good movies to check out too:
Battle Royale
Children of Men
Bladerunner
Equilibrium
Gattaca
The Island
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Walker » 20 Jan 2012, 12:38

I found both The Road and The Handmaid's Tale very hard reads (emotionally). There were times with The Road that I'd have to put the book down for a day or so before I got back to it. I wouldn't say it depressed me but it certainly had an effect on me. I felt the same with the movie version only to a lesser degree. My husband, who didn't read the book, went with me to see the film and it was the only time I've ever heard him say a movie left him feeling disturbed. To this day, if The Road comes up in conversation he gives me a dirty look!
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby HillaryJ » 20 Jan 2012, 17:14

Lucifer's Hammer is a good one. Slightly older, so the tech is different. The scene from that book that has forever remained in my head? A family trying to preserve books for surviving generations. :)
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Mira » 26 Jan 2012, 15:24

You might look at some books by Ursula Le Guin (not the Earthsea Trilogy - wonderful YA series, but not dystopian.)

Her books are classics, so the technology may be outdated.

She plays with the concepts of both dystopia and utopia in a number of different ways. She a very intelligent and probing writer and her books have depth. She's not usually YA, though.

The Dispossessed comes to mind.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby Heather B » 27 Jan 2012, 03:07

Brave New World can't be overlooked. Also recently I've read Legend and Divergent and those are both good. Cinder is more SciFi than dystopian but it has some of the same undertones. And I loved it more than the others.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby TL Rese » 10 Feb 2012, 11:13

i would say that 1984 takes the crown.
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Re: Best Dystopian Novels

Postby GingerWrite » 10 Feb 2012, 14:33

My favorites have been: Divergent (HIGHLY recommend), the Uglies series, and Matched. They each take a different approach to the idea of a dystopian environment that's very interesting.
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